INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Possible Terrorist Sighting in Ho Chi Minh City

Published: Fri 4 Jun 2004 10:11 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001617
SIPDIS
TERREP
SENSITIVE
DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/EAP, DS/DSS/ITA, DS/ICI/PII, DS/DSS/CC,
DS/ICI/CI and EAP/BCLTV
BANGKOK FOR RSO AND LEGATT, EMBASSIES FOR RSO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PTER VM CTERR
SUBJECT: POSSIBLE TERRORIST SIGHTING IN HO CHI MINH CITY
REF: HO CHI MINH CITY 750
REFTEL WAS DRAFTED AND CLOUTED BY CONGEN HO CHI MINH CITY ON JUNE
2, 2004. HOWEVER, DUE TO TECHNICAL PROBLEMS WITH THE TERP,
TRANSMISSION WAS DELAYED. RSO HANOI IS RETRANSMITTING WITH
ADDEDED ADDRESSEES AND TERREP CHANNEL.
BEGIN TEXT
1. (SBU) ON JUNE 2, 2004, AT 11:00 HOURS, RSO MET WITH TWO AMCITS
WHO WERE CURRENTLY ON A BUSINESS TRIP TO HO CHI MINH CITY,
VIETNAM. BOTH AMCITS REPORTED THAT THEY ARE STAYING AT THE
SHERATON SAIGON HOTEL IN HO CHI MINH CITY. THEY SAID THAT ON THE
NIGHT OF JUNE 1 AT APPROXIMATELY 22:00 HOURS, THEY WENT TO THE
23RD FLOOR NIGHTCLUB AT THE SHERATON AND TOOK A TABLE ON THE UPPER
TIER OF THE CLUB. THE TABLE WAS LOCATED BY THE RAILING THAT
OVERLOOKED THE DANCE FLOOR AND WAS LOCATED NEAR THE STAIRWAY THAT
LEADS DOWN TO THE DANCE FLOOR.
2. (SBU) WHILE THERE, BOTH AMCITS SPOTTED AN INDIVIDUAL WHO LOOKED
AND WAS DRESSED IN AN OUTFIT THAT SEEMED WAY OUT OF PLACE. THE
INDIVIDUAL LOOKED LIKE HE WAS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST AND WAS WEARING
A BLUE, BULKY COAT THAT WENT DOWN TO HIS KNEES (DEFINITELY NOT
DANCING CLOTHES, AND EVEN THOUGH THE NIGHTCLUB IS AIRCONDITIONED,
THE TEMPERATURE OFTEN RISES TO 80 DEGREES). THE COAT HAD WHITE
SIX-INCH LETTERS ON THE BACK THAT SAID "ALITALIA". THE SUBJECT
WAS ALSO WEARING BLUE UNIFORM PANTS AND THE AMCITS DESCRIBED HIM
AS LOOKING LIKE "AN AIRLINE BAGGAGE HANDLER." THE AMCITS SAID THE
INDIVIDUAL WAS IN HIS LATE 20S TO EARLY 30S, APPROXIMATELY 5'8" TO
5'10" TALL, HAD WELL-GROOMED SHORT BLACK HAIR AND PROMINENT EARS.
WHILE THE AMCITS OBSERVED THE INDIVIDUAL WATCHING PEOPLE COME UP
AND DOWN THE STAIRS, THE INDIVIDUAL SUDDENLY MOVED OVER TO STAND
NEXT TO THEM, ONLY INCHES AWAY. THE INDIVIDUAL STAYED THERE FOR
APPROXIMATELY 15 MINUTES, AND THE AMCITS GOT A GOOD LOOK AT HIM.
THE SUBJECT THEN MOVED BACK TO THE STAIRS BRIEFLY AND WALKED DOWN
THE STAIRS AND DEPARTED THE CLUB AT APPROXIMATELY 22:50 HOURS.
3. (SBU) THE AMCITS WERE CONCERNED ENOUGH THAT THEY WENT TO THE
HOTEL'S INTERNET SERVICE COMPUTER AND CHECKED THE FBI MOST WANTED
TERRORIST WEBSITE. BASED ON THE PHOTOS ON THE WEBSITE, THEY HAVE
IDENTIFIED THE INDIVIDUAL AS FAHID MOHAMMED ALLY MSALAM; DPOB: 19
FEBRUARY 1976 IN MOMBASSA, KENYA AND WANTED IN CONNECTION OF THE
EAST AFRICAN EMBASSY BOMBINGS IN 1998.
4. (SBU) AMCITS SUPPLYING INFORMATION:
NAME: KAMM, CHRISTAN PHILLIP
DPOB: 30 OCTOBER 1967 OHIO
PPT#: 155313415
NAME: HERBERT, STEVEN ALAN
DPOB: 20 AUGUST 1953 RHODE ISLAND
PPT#: 104003089.
BOTH AMCITS REPORTED THAT THEY WOULD BE IN VIETNAM UNTIL JUNE 4,
2004 AND WOULD BE AVAILABLE TO DISCUSS THE MATTER FURTHER.
5. (SBU) ACTIONS TAKEN: RSO HCMC CONTACTED RSO HANOI TO REPORT
INCIDENT. RSO HANOI PASSED INFORMATION ON TO AMBASSADOR, DCM AND
FBI LEGATT BANGKOK. RSO HCMC ALSO INFORMED CG, DPO AND DHS OIC
RICK SELL. RSO HANOI AND RSO HCMC CONTACTED RESPECTIVE MINISTRY
OF PUBLIC SECURITY (MPS) CONTACTS TO ARRANGE MEETINGS WITH
COUNTERPARTS TO INFORM THEM OF THE MATTER AND REQUEST IMMEDIATE
ASSISTANCE. RSOS HANOI AND HCMC APPRISED LGF AND SD TEAMS OF THE
SITUATION AND DISSEMINATED FBI FLYERS OF THE SUBJECT TO ALL LGF
POSTS. RSOS ALSO DISSEMINATED FBI FLYERS TO ALL APARTMENT
BUILDINGS IN WHICH USG MEMBERS AND FAMILIES ARE RESIDING.
6. (SBU) RSO HCMC ALSO VISITED THE SHERATON SAIGON HOTEL AND
SPOKE WITH THE GENERAL MANAGER AND THE SECURITY CHIEF REGARDING
THE MATTER. THE SECURITY CHIEF NOTED THAT NONE OF HIS GUARD FORCE
REPORTED ANYONE LOOKING OR ACTING SUSPICIOUS THE PREVIOUS NIGHT.
RSO VIEWED VIDEOTAPES FROM THE NIGHT BEFORE OF THE TWO ELEVATOR
BANKS WITH DEDICATED ACCESS TO THE NIGHTCLUB, BUT THEY WERE OF
SUCH POOR QUALITY THAT PEOPLE WERE UNRECOGNIZABLE. THE GENERAL
MANAGER AGREED TO HOLD THE TAPE FOR 60 DAYS IN THE EVENT OTHERS
WANTED TO VIEW IT. RSO LEFT A COPY OF THE FBI FLYER WITH THE
GENERAL MANAGER TO DISSEMINATE AMONG HIS SECURITY STAFF. RSO ALSO
BRIEFLY VISITED THE INDIAN JAMIA MUSLIM MOSQUE LOCATED ONE HALF-
BLOCK FROM THE SHERATON AND SHOWED THE THREE SECURITY GUARDS THERE
A PICTURE OF THE SUBJECT. THE GUARDS, WHILE HELPFUL, DID NOT
RECOGNIZE THE SUBJECT.
7. (SBU) DHS OIC RICK SELL REPORTED TALKING TO MPS CONTACTS, WHO
SAID THAT THEY ARE TAKING THE REPORT VERY SERIOUSLY AND HAVE
ALERTED ALL AIR, SEA PORTS AND BORDER CROSSING AREAS OF THE
SUBJECT AND THE SITUATION. MPS ALSO REPORTED THAT THERE ARE SIX
MPS OFFICERS DEDICATED TO THIS MATTER. THEY ARE CURRENTLY
CONDUCTING RECORD CHECKS TO SEE IF ANYONE UNDER THE SUBJECT'S NAME
OF ALIASES HAS EITHER ENTERED OR DEPARTED VIETNAM. SELL ALSO
DISTRIBUTED FBI FLYERS TO THE MPS. RSO AND DHS OIC WILL MEET WITH
VIETNAMESE POLICE AND SECURITY ELEMENTS IN THE MORNING TO GET AN
UPDATE ON THEIR PROGRESS.
8. (SBU) RSO NOTES: RSO BELIEVES THAT THE TWO AMCITS WHO REPORTED
THE INFORMATION REGARDING THE SUBJECT ARE SINCERE AND CONCERNED
ABOUT SPOTTING THIS INDIVIDUAL. BOTH WERE VERY COOPERATIVE. THEY
ARE CERTAIN THAT DUE TO THE LENGTH OF TIME THEY VIEWED THE SUBJECT
CLOSE UP, THAT WHEN THEY SAW THE PICTURE ON THE FBI WEBSITE, THE
INDIVIDUAL MATCHED THE PICTURE OF MSALAM. THE SHERATON SAIGON
HOTEL IS THE ONLY UPSCALE HOTEL IN HCMC THAT HAS AN IMMEDIATELY
IDENTIFIABLE "AMERICAN" NAME. THE NIGHTCLUB FEATURES AN
AMERICAN/CANADIAN BAND THAT PLAYS THERE SEVEN NIGHTS A WEEK. RSO
WILL REPORT BACK SOONEST ON ANY INFORMATION THAT IS DEVELOPED.
END TEXT
BURGHARDT
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